by Dr. Clifton L. Holland

(last revised on June 12, 2003)

Historical Overview:

Discovery by Christopher Columbus on several voyages to the New World:                      1492-1500

Dutch take control of Curacao from the Spanish:                                                                    1634

Dutch receive control of Bonaire in the Treaty of Westfalia:                                                     1648

Slavery abolished:                                                                                                               1863


Number of North American Protestant Agencies in 1997:                                                              8

Indicates European society*

Significant Protestant Beginnings or Events in the following islands:  Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, St. Martin and St. Eustatius.


     1650       -    *Protestants arrived with the beginning of Dutch settlement; Dutch Reformed churches were established on Curacao and Bonaire.


     1705       -    *Roman Catholic presence established; a Vicariate was created on Curacao in 1842, and the Diocese of Willemstad in 1958. 


     1787       -    *Wesleyan Methodist Church formed by Bishop Thomas Coke in St. Eustatius; first Methodist converts were led by an African slave known as “Black Harry;” Methodist work spread to St. Martin in the 1840s and to Curacao in the 1930s; in 1967 these churches became part of the Conference of the Methodist Church in the Americas and the Caribbean.


     1825       -    *The Protestant Church formed as a forced merger of the Dutch Reformed Churches and Dutch Lutheran Churches by Dutch colonial authorities.


     1926       -    Seventh-day Adventists


     1931       -    *The Reformed Church in Curacao formed by members of the Protestant Church; included members of the Netherlands Reformed Church.


     1931       -    TEAM (The Evangelical Alliance Mission)


     1953       -    Grace Ministries International


     1964       -    Trans World Radio


     1974       -    United Pentecostal Church International


     1983       -    Southern Baptist Convention


     1984       -    *United Protestant Church of Netherlands Antilles (a merger of the Netherlands Reformed Church and the Protestant Church)


     1994       -    Gospel Outreach Mission



Date of Origin Unknown:


-       Child Evangelism Fellowship


                   -    The Assemblies of God


-       The Salvation Army




(1)       Dates listed indicate the earliest recorded ministry or in case of discrepancies, the date most frequently indicated.


(2)       North American Agencies include U.S. and Canadian.


(1) Daryl L. Platt, "Who Represents the Evangelical Churches in Latin America? A Study of the Evangelical Fellowship Organizations." Pasadena, CA: an unpublished Doctor of Missiology Dissertation, School of World Mission, Fuller Theological Seminary, June 1991. Used by permission of the author.

(2) PROLADES (Latin American Socio-religious Studies Program), international headquarters in San José, Costa Rica: www.prolades.com, prolades@racsa.co.cr

            (3) John A. Siewert and Edna G. Valdez, editors: Mission Handbook of U.S. and Canadian Christian Ministries Overseas (MARC 1997).

(4) Jean-Jacques Bauswein and Lukas Vischer, The Reformed Family Worldwide (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999).